Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 05/24/11 at 01:04 AM ET
Q. Did it matter to you guys whether it was Roloson or Smith? Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to be very cagey about what their plans were.
BRAD MARCHAND: Yeah. They were playing a little bit of mind games there on who they were going to start, but we knew either way we had to get shots in front of their goalie. He was seeing the puck pretty clearly. We knew it didn’t matter who was going to be playing. We had to focus on what we had to do to score and us getting bodies in front of the net and pucks in the net, and we did that pretty good tonight.
Q. Brad, I don’t know if you had a look at the save that Thomas made on Downie. Did you see it? What did you think of that save?
BRAD MARCHAND: Yeah, I saw it. That was unbelievable. I was sitting on the bench. I thought it was for sure going to be a goal. Those are always pretty easy tap-ins. But Timmy came up with an unbelievable save there, and that was a turning point.
Q. The first period, being a little too fine with the puck, maybe had a few turnovers, maybe trying to carry it too much, trying do too much with it?
BRAD MARCHAND: Yeah. We had a lot turnovers in the first, and we were getting away from the game. We wanted to get deep and then work down low in the corners. That’s our game. They have too much skill to be turning the puck over at the blue line, and they always get a lot of opportunities off the rush like that. So we knew we had to clean it up in the second and third, and we corrected that and played great after that.
Q. Take us through the first period intermission as a team. Obviously there were a lot of adjustments that needed to be made physically, I would assume mentally.
BRAD MARCHAND: Yeah, it was a frustrating period, that first one, but we knew when we went into the room we just had to clean it up a bit. We had to focus and kind of relax. Just seemed like we were a little tense in the first period. So when we went back in, we wanted to relax a bit and focus on our game.
I think we were a little worried about what they were going to do out there, and talk about Smith got in our head a bit. So we just wanted to relax and start getting pucks in deep and battling down on the corners.
Q. What was the intensity like on the bench? You guys all were standing through the last half of the period there, both teams, like you were 12 years old watching. What was that feeling like?
BRAD MARCHAND: It was very nerve-racking. Every time they got the puck, guys were on edge and every time we got it, we were just yelling chip it out. It was very nerve-racking the last half of the game. We were, like you said, like 12-year-old kids out there. Everyone was really excited, and it was just very intense last half of the game.
Q. How does it feel to be one win away from playing in the Stanley Cup Final?
BRAD MARCHAND: It’s an unbelievable feeling. But we’re still a long ways away. That one game could take forever to get here. So we have to make sure that we kind of let this go and we bring the emotion from this game into the next one.
It’s a great feeling but we have to keep it out of our heads because we still have another big win to get.
Q. Brad, you mentioned it was nerve-racking being on the bench. What sense do you get of Timmy’s mood back there when you guys are like that?
BRAD MARCHAND: He seems to be so calm out there. And even the last half of the game, you saw some of the saves he was making. You kind a look at him and you get a sense of confidence just from the way he stands there and he’s just so poised and calm in situations like that. I think that’s why he’s such a great goalie. Those big moments when you need him, he’s calm and relaxed and he’s confident, and that’s big for us.
Q. Tim, talk about what it’s like to be one win away from going to the Stanley Cup Final.
TIM THOMAS: You know, that is there, the fact that we’re one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals, but that isn’t what we need to focus on, and that isn’t really what I’m thinking about.
What we need to focus on is just playing the next game as good as we can and trying to get one win, and not look at it like one win gets us to the Stanley Cup Finals but just more like approach it the same way we have most of these Playoffs and kind of keep it simple.
Q. Can you walk us through that save you made on Downie in the third period, please?
TIM THOMAS: First, I want to say that my recollection might not be exactly the way the video is. That’s happened on a couple of goals lately.
So the way I remember it, it got out to the point and there was a couple of different sets of screens. There was one set of our forward and their guy up top and one set of their guy and our guy closer to me.
So I saw him getting ready to take the shot but I couldn’t see the puck. That’s probably why he had to shoot wide is our guys were taking away the shooting lanes. But I picked it up somewhere. It was about halfway to me, but I saw it was going wide. And I was out towards the top of the crease, so I didn’t have time to get my whole body back.
With the way the new boards are nowadays in all the arenas, you’ve got to be on your toes for those big bounces. The big bounce came out.
It was just a reaction and a desperation. And I’ll admit I got a little bit lucky there.
Q. Brad Marchand just said that with all the chaos and hecticness of the ten minutes of that third period, he looked back at you and you looked calm and poised. Did you feel calm and poised in those final ten minutes with all the swarms going around you?
TIM THOMAS: I didn’t really notice the craziness. It just kind of felt like it had for most of the second and the third. I thought we did a pretty good job of keeping it under control, actually. So probably a good thing that it felt like that to me or else I might have gotten nervous.
I saw a lot of little plays by our guys that broke stuff up that stopped their momentum and led to us getting in and out of the zone and making them turn around and regroup and stuff like that.
Q. Did you feel that you had any extra pressure to go out there and perform well tonight?
TIM THOMAS: Well, there was no guarantee. The way the question was framed was more to the effect of: How do I see the rest of the series going? In my mind I was thinking about it how I visualize. Of course I’m going to visualize us winning the series.
I’m not going to sit there and visualize us losing. So that was that.
But because it was blown out of proportion, yeah, there was a little bit more pressure, but I tried to ignore it as best I could and just try to play the game. And what matters is what you do on the ice, not the other stuff.
Q. When a goal comes that quickly, is your thought: Well, we’ve got 59 minutes to go, or how do you approach that?
TIM THOMAS: Well, two things happen: One, the thought crosses your mind that, oh, I gotta bear down even if it’s another two-on-one, I’ve got to find a way to make the save because we can’t afford to get down 2-0. The teams are too tight and the games are too tight for that to happen. So that thought is in there.
But the second thing that happens is actually in a funny way, you relax a little bit. And I don’t know how it works, but it kind of works that way for me. I don’t want to let in an early goal, obviously. But I’ve had experience with it in the past.
And for some reason, sometimes it can relax me. And that’s kind of the effect it had tonight. It was just more like, well, I’m going to have to work hard and do the best I can to not let them get any further away to give us a chance to win.
Q. How much pressure do you think was on the other goalie given that they did their best to keep it a surprise that he was even going to start tonight?
TIM THOMAS: Probably less pressure than he was thinking, because I’m a goalie, so I kind of know the thought process. But so probably there’s pressure because they want to win, but he played a good game. He only let in two goals, and they were two pretty good goals.
So didn’t seem to be a factor for him.
Q. The amount of shots, the amount of traffic, the amount of pucks you had to handle, did that get you in your rhythm, the way you like to get?
TIM THOMAS: I don’t know. I guess in effect it did. Some nights—it’s like we’re playing so much hockey now that you don’t really need that to get into a rhythm, I don’t think.
Sometimes during the season, when you need those shots and stuff is the games when you haven’t played in five days or six days or seven days. Playing the puck that much and stuff like that is helpful in those cases. On a night like tonight, that’s just the way it worked out and the way it happened.
But I guess it could have helped me keep my focus for the whole game. I haven’t really thought about it.
Q. Tim, a couple quick ones. Two minutes into the third, the Jones shot, did you think he had you beat? What happened?
TIM THOMAS: No. It hit off my shoulder and the post. It hit off my shoulder hard enough that I didn’t think it had even hit the post until after I saw the replay.
Actually, I kind of saw it out of the corner of my eye, just barely grazed the post, too. I saw it go in the corner. He put his hands in the air, or somebody did, and I was confused for a second because I didn’t think that it was in. And in that case, I saw the play developing.
I saw him cutting in, and I was just trying to take up as much net as possible and get the right angle when he was releasing it.
Q. And you touched on the Downie goal, the non-goal, I should say, the paddle save. You say it’s luck.
TIM THOMAS: Partially.
Q. Partial luck. I’m just wondering, what’s the emotional response on your end when that happened? You’ve been a little lucky, you’ve made the save. The crowd gets all juiced up, what happened to you?
TIM THOMAS: Well, sometimes I’m so focused that I don’t even actually hear the crowd, even if it’s at home and even after a big save because I’m just thinking, or I’m so focused.
I was focused tonight, but for some reason actually I heard the crowd and I paid attention to it. And I was very appreciative of the cheering and the loudness, and in this case it gave me a little boost of energy to help me make it through the rest of the third period.
Q. You touched on it a little earlier, but how much of a sense of relief or accomplishment was it to get to the first intermission just down one goal and as a team regroup?
TIM THOMAS: Tonight, it wasn’t really a sense of relief to get to the first period, to the end of the first period only down 1-0. Even at the end of the first period, I was hoping that we would tie it up.
So going in, though, we know we did not start out the game the way we would like to play. And it shows a lot of character in the fact that we were able to come back in the second period and turn our game around.
Tampa showed that character in Game 4, the way that they did it and the way they were able to turn the game around. And we showed character tonight in the way we were able to turn the game around.
It’s not easy. Once you start out struggling a little bit, it’s hard to change it. But as we’ve done a lot of times this year, we ended up finding a way.
Q. Some of the Lightning players said they thought a lot of their shots came from the outside and they needed to make things more difficult. Did you think you guys did a good job forcing them to the outside?
TIM THOMAS: Yeah. I think, you know, we started to take away some time and space, especially in the second and third period. And that helped us to be able to eventually keep the lead and win the game.
Q. You talked about trying to turn it around, and it really seemed that after the first goal you started to put some offense together and string some good passes together in the second period. How much does one play, particularly that goal, help ignite a team?
TIM THOMAS: It can help. It depends on what you as a team do after you score that goal. If you just say, oh, we scored the goal, it’s just going to come easy now, then you’re just setting yourself up for trouble.
But if you score that goal and you use the energy from the crowd and you use that momentum and do the right things, you end up getting that second goal, which is what we did. And a second goal, same scenario.
Actually, just scratch the last half of that answer.
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